By Gavin Gibbon
The five-star hotel is close enough for those all-important business meetings, but feels a satisfying world away when it's time to unwind
Apparently you should never mix business with pleasure – however, a truly exceptional five-star hotel does exactly that.
The Renaissance Downtown Hotel, Dubai is located at the edge of Dubai’s Downtown district and it does both rather well. Located just moments beyond the low-rise Arabian architecture of the area’s exclusive Old Town neighbourhood, the hotel, which opened its doors just over two years ago, is close enough for access to those all-important meetings, with Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) just a short taxi journey away.
And yet its setting, on the edge of the Dubai Water Canal, where joggers and cyclists breeze by without a single care in the world, appears a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
There is an air of calm as soon as you pass through the revolving doors, where you are greeted by an art installation of Dubai’s impressive skyline; a hand-blown chandelier lends the space an impressive majesty.
Locally inspired art features throughout reception and into the elevators, with natural wood finishes and Arabesque patterns offering a touch of style that references the local culture and artistic heritage.
The hotel is large enough to feel a sense of privacy, but intimate at the same time to experience the personal touch from staff. It boasts 166 king rooms and 65 suites including 32 corner suites, 15 deluxe, 13 executive suites, four VP suites and one presidential suite. The deluxe suite is huge at 65 square metres and the floor-to-ceiling windows offer stunning views. A striking feature is Picasso’s camel sketch above the bed, re-interpreted into a 3D iron rod sculpture, it brings a sense of personality and avoids the anonymity that often pervades even five-star hotel rooms.
For those looking to burn off some energy there is the option to use the hotel bicycles and join the cyclists around the canal, or visit the gym on the third floor, which boasts a selection of Technogym equipment, weights and striking images of Burj Khalifa.
Indulgence beckons at the Six Senses Spa which is located on level five and features six treatment suites that are each dedicated to a different sense – skilled therapists will knead and massage away the last of your business traveller fatigue, instilling a sense of profound contentment and relaxation.
And in terms of food, there is more than enough to satisfy your appetite.
Enjoy the sunset view with live entertainment and shisha at Bhar, with flavours from Chef Mohanad Al Shamali and sample his trademark Black Cod Syadieh, as well as other creations such as Crispy Soft-Shell Crab Saj with garlic mayo and harissa and duck fat chips. Basta! the brainchild of celebrity chef David Myers, combines the feel of a Roman trattoria, Florentine steakhouse and Neapolitan pizzeria into one restaurant. The new brunch is another highlight.
The Renaissance is also home to Chef Masaharu Morimoto’s first UAE outpost of his famed-eponymous restaurant.
And then there’s the signature restaurant, award-winning Bleu Blanc. A creation of Myers, it combines French chic with the warmth of a farmhouse and is considered something of a gastronomic destination by the city’s food cognoscenti.
While its location on the edge of Business Bay leads one to conclude it is a business hotel, the truth is the property is much more. It ticks all the boxes in that respect, but also offers free shuttle services to Dubai Mall, Kite Beach and La Mer and it is just a five-minute walk to Downtown, the city’s de facto entertainment and lifestyle centre.